As we reported earlier, the run up to the 35th annual America’s Cup, which began qualifying rounds on May 26th, drew a record number of superyachts to the Island Nation of Bermuda.
Speaking to the Royal Gazette, an island Newspaper, Mark Soares of Bermuda Yacht Services said that not only were there already “around 70” superyachts traversing and docked among the island’s waters, for the races, but also, that he expects more to arrive over the course of the scheduled events, and that he anticipates the bulk of the superyachts will “remain in Bermuda until the racing concludes.”
However, now that the races are drawing to a close, Bermudian officials are tasked with the challenge of how to get the Superyachts to stay beyond the end of the month, and more importantly how to get them to return again, and again throughout the year, even when the races are not being held.
In preparation for the Cup, Bermuda increased its capacity to accommodate yachts over 100 feet, with new marinas and dockage facilities specifically designed to cater to larger vessels of the super and megayacht classes.
But that may not be enough to get them to return. It may take a change in legislation, if Bermuda wants to grow and maintain its reputation as a super yacht haven, beyond the Cup.
Yacht Charter Rules and Regulations
A presentation entitled, Superyachts: Securing a Legacy Benefit of the 35th America’s Cup, was held on June 20th to address this very concern. It was given by Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO, Kevin Dallas.
The presentation was followed by a panel discussion led by St George’s mayor Quinell Francis, senior manager at the Ministry of Economic Development’s Business Development Unit, Lydia Dickens, and the BTA’s chief product and experience officer Pat Phillip-Fairn.
According to the Royal Gazette, 89% of superyacht owners surveyed said they would recommend Bermuda as a destination to other superyacht owners. However, during Dallas’ presentation, he said that the real challenge “is getting them to return time and time again for prolonged periods.”
He went on to tell those in attendance that he believes that one of the main factors that has held Bermuda back as a superyacht destination year-round, is restrictions on the ability of visitors to charter their vessels while there. These laws were relaxed allowing owners to charter their yachts during the America’s Cup, but that will come to an end on June 30th.
He feels that new legislation that would permanently lift the restrictions on yacht owners chartering their vessels while in Bermuda, would go a long way to cement legacy and good will built up during the Cup. Mr. Dallas said, “This legislation should become permanent, although we recognize the need to protect Bermuda’s domestic charter boat owners in that industry. We need to relax the laws in a way that gives the bigger boats an incentive to visit and stay, but not set them up to compete with our own charter industry.”
He concluded his presentation by showing how former America’s Cup host, the city of Auckland, NZ, presented “an interesting parallel” to Bermuda. The city hosted the America’s Cup in 1995 and 2000, and used it as a catalyst to develop their waterfront into what is now generally recognized as one of the world’s major superyacht hubs.
Auckland is now one of the world’s most popular yachting destinations
Bermuda and the Yachting Life
Even before hosting the 2017 America’s Cup, Bermuda has been an upcoming yachting, and yacht charter destination.
Bermuda has always been a popular destination for yachts of both the sailing and motor variety. In the run up to the races, the unassuming island had been becoming even more popular with seafarers the world over.
Bermuda has had its share of ebbs and flows with tourism over the years. Once a playground for the elite, it has lost some of its luster to the Caribbean, but it is back on the upswing, thanks largely to hosting yachting’s signature international event.
According to Forbes Magazine, since landing the America’s Cup for 2017, visits to the island by 18-24 year olds were up “39 percent and government officials believe that many will become repeat visitors, returning for destination weddings, honeymoons, weekend getaways and vacations…”
The quaint British Territory, once mainly known for its pastel colors and definitive shorts, is now trying to convince yachtsman and others alike that “this is not your father’s Bermuda.” The Island is now actively marketing its more adventurous side, promoting everything from scuba diving, snorkeling, and sport fishing, to parasailing and whale watching.
As part of the preparations for hosting the America’s Cup, the Island has had to create more dockage suited to luxury motor yachts, which is why Bermuda is seeing a resurgence as a yacht charter destination.
Choosing the right charter experience can be challenging. If you would like to benefit from our expertise in these areas, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Charter Specialists, or call us at (855) 318-6328.